- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2016

The theme of this sprawling event is timely: “Come Together.” The three-day American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference begins Sunday in the nation’s capital and has drawn a startling array of high-profile speakers, ready to have their say before an audience of 18,000.

The AIPAC roster includes Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich, along with Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Democratic Whip Rep. Steny H. Hoyer and Sens. Robert Menendez and Lindsey Graham.

A fleet of lawmakers too numerous to name will also appear, along with journalists, strategists, diplomats, clergy, pollsters, student activists, lobbyists, entertainers and assorted luminaries from the military and intelligence communities. The event is, in a word, huge, and described by organizers as “three of the most important days affecting Israel’s future.” And the mission: “To strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of Israel and the United States.”

CRUZ GETS SECURE

The aforementioned Ted Cruz now has a 23-member “national security coalition” ready to advise him on foreign policy challenges, all with much heavyweight credentials and institutional knowledge. Among them: Jim Talent, Frank Gaffney, Michael Ledeen, Andrew McCarthy, Michael Pillsbury, Fred Fleitz, Elliott Abrams, Claire Lopez — the bristling list goes on.

“Our allies are confused and frightened, our enemies are looking for opportunities. All those who believe in a strong America that is secure at home and respected abroad must come together and craft a new path forward,” says Mr. Cruz.

AND THAT’S THAT

“I’m not going to be anybody’s vice president. I’m not interested in being vice president. I’m not running for governor of Florida. I’m going to finish out my term in the Senate, and over the next 10 months we are going to work really hard here — and then I’ll be a private citizen in January.”

— Former presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio, to reporters Thursday.

THE KINDER, GENTLER JUDGE

In the first 24 hours after President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, the big three networks deemed the federal judge either a “moderate” or a “centrist,” according to Scott Whitlock, a Media Research Center analyst who sat through the follow-up news coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC.

Mr. Garland was cast as an appealing, middle-of-the-road figure. ABC and NBC reports never called him a “liberal” even once; CBS used the term just twice, also tucking in the phrase “moderate liberal” on two occasions. In all, the three networks identified Mr. Garland as a comfy moderate nine times.

“The journalistic effort to stamp Garland as a moderate comes despite the judge’s past ruling against Second Amendment rights and a history of campaigning for Democratic presidential candidates,” says Mr. Whitlock, who also notes that even The New York Times described Mr. Garland as “ideologically similar” to Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, Mr. Obama’s first two appointees.

PRO-LIFERS PUSH BACK

That was quick: Six pro-life groups have already joined together to form the Protect the Court coalition, a grass-roots effort to rally around pro-life senators who intend to quell White House efforts to nominate Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Find the initial efforts at ProtecttheCourt.com.

President Obama should not be permitted one last opportunity to stack the court with pro-abortion justices,” notes a joint statement from Concerned Women for America, Iowa Right to Life, March for Life, Priests for Life, Students for Life of America and the Susan B. Anthony List.

WEEKEND CANDIDATE TRACKER

The Southwest is calling. Republican front-runner Donald Trump hosts two signature rallies in Arizona this weekend. Sen. Ted Cruz has been campaigning in the state all week with former rival Rick Perry; he winds up his week at a rally in Phoenix with Mr. Perry and media maven Glenn Beck. Tenacious Gov. John Kasich spends the weekend in Utah, appearing at four town halls; all three then head to Washington for the aforementioned AIPAC conference.

Among the sparse Democrats, Hillary Clinton has been on moneymaking detail, appearing personally at private fundraisers in Tennessee, Connecticut and Virginia in the last 24 hours, where some tickets fetch as much as $27,000. Each. Mrs. Clinton arrives in Phoenix on Monday to “discuss her plans to break down racial, social and economic barriers for families,” according to her campaign. Sen. Bernard Sanders has also been in Arizona on multiple appearances all week, but arrives Saturday in Idaho for local rallies in Idaho Falls and elsewhere.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: Crystal Well Farm, built on five acres in 1839 near Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Four bedrooms, three baths, 4,100 square feet. Completely renovated stone and stucco farm house, five fireplaces, exposed beams, bead and board detailing, high ceilings, pine floors. State-of-the-art chef’s kitchen, breakfast and dining rooms, living and family rooms, loft, mud and laundry rooms. Fenced property, mature trees, three-car garage, slate roof. Priced at $850,000 through Kurfiss.com; enter 6698468 in “find” function.

POLL DU JOUR

56 percent say the water issue in Flint, Michigan, is a “sign of a more widespread problem”; 42 percent say it’s an isolated incident.

51 percent trust their local government to provide safe water to drink “a little”; 28 percent trust it “a lot.”

50 percent say the federal government should do more to ensure safe drinking water; 40 percent say its involvement is “about right.”

47 percent are very confident their water is safe, 33 percent are moderately confident, 18 percent are not confident.

36 percent normally drink filtered tap water; 33 percent drink straight tap water, 30 percent bottled water.

Source; An AP/GFK poll of 1,005 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 11-15 and released March 5.

Cheers, jeers to [email protected]

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